Miao girls in traditional ethnic costumes serve “Gaoshan Liushui” – a way of drinking making guest drink several bowels of wine at one time – at an exhibition held to celebrate Miao New Year in Beijing. [Photo/wxgz.gog.cn]
Beijingers were able to experience original Miao culture in the capital as a Miao lifestyle exhibition opened from Nov 3 to 6.
Rather than flying to Southwest China where the majority of the Miao ethnic group live, Beijing residents had the chance to take part in an extended celebration of the Miao New Year, courtesy of Leishan county in Guizhou province.
The festival is the most import event for Miao people and was listed as an item of intangible cultural heritage by the State Council in 2000. Leishan county is home to a majority of Miao people and began holding official events for the Miao New Year in 2000.
The highlight of the exhibition was a typical Miao long-table dinner, where hundreds of people ate together and experienced Miao utensils, conventions and etiquettes. It’s a Miao tradition to enjoy a large meal together on important occasions.
Attendees also took part in the famous “Gaoshan Liushui” (water flows down high mountain), which involves drinking with several Miao girls holding bowls of wine. The girls pour the wine from one to another and the wine in the last bowl serves the guest. In this way, the guest needs to drink several bowls of wine though he or she only drinks from one bowl.
Another highlight to the exhibition event was a fashion show. Fashionable Miao style costumes such as the hundred bird clothing, which decorated with embroidery of bird images and silver ornaments, were displayed on stage. Known as “nongx niangx” in the Miao dialect, the Miao New Year is celebrated at different times in different regions, but is generally held somewhere from the ninth to the eleventh month of the Chinese lunar calendar, after rice crops have been harvested.
The Miao people have the tradition to put on an array of folk activities on the festival. Women would put on their most fine embroidery and silver ornaments, which clank as they dance to the music played by the boys with reed-pipes.
In addition to harvest celebration activities, worship ceremonies are also held to express gratitude to ancestors and nature – as Miao people believe the two have blessed them. Sacrifices including pig’s head, fish, chicken and wine are laid out on the altar.
Other spectacles include bull fights, chicken fights, shooting and pole-climbing which often attract thousands of people.